Kent Police combat retail theft with operation at Lowe’s

A rash of retail thefts has been sweeping western Washington and now, Kent Police are taking steps to put a stop to it, with officers working with retailers to target some of the worst offenders.

Kent Police say they conducted an emphasis operation in which they put officers inside a local store with loss prevention staff. After that action, at least five people were facing theft charges. It was so successful, they are planning more.

“Over the last couple years, we’ve seen the increase in crime, in this particular case, retail theft,” said Jarod Kasner, the assistant chief of Kent PD.

Kent Police also reported an increase in more aggressive thefts. Recently, police partnered with Lowe’s for an emphasis operation to try to put a stop to it.

The assistant chief says at that type of store, thieves have been known to target everything from screwdrivers to lumber and generators.

“It affects not only the business, but the community as well as the people who are shopping there because prices go up,” said Kasner.

Police say the Lowe’s operation was the result of brainstorming by commanders and a KPD patrol officer who had taken many of these reports.

After the operation, five suspects were facing charges for theft. Officers also arrested two on felony warrants, three on misdemeanor warrants and gave six trespass warnings so the person can be arrested if they return. They also arrested one person for criminal trespass and recovered over $1,000 in stolen property.

“Some of the people we apprehended did have warrants for other things and pending charges,” said Kasner. “Having a fixed business like Lowes it makes them a target for out of the area people to come in and take advantage of either the location, of where the business is, and how it’s set up, and we work with them on how to minimize it,” said Kasner.

The assistant chief says they still have staffing constraints, but when they have the opportunity to bring officers in, they will conduct more emphasis actions.

“Last time I was up at Uwajimaya, they were following a guy out that was shoplifting some stuff and making a scene about it,” said Dylan Knutson of Auburn. He was shopping in Kent on Friday and is one of many residents in the area who have noticed the rise in crime.

Knutson says changes in crime levels will be determined by the resources invested in it.

“I think it just depends on what leadership is going to do about it,” said Knutson.


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